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Carteret Community College is set for growth in the year ahead thanks to $2.67 million from the state’s $2 billion Connect NC bond. The funds are joined by $2.2 million from the county and additional funds from the Carteret Community College Foundation to expand its hospitality and culinary arts program.

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Now housed in a 50-year old building along Arendell Street, the new 14,780-square-foot building will allow the culinary program to double its enrollment. It currently serves more than 60 students. Overall the project is estimated to cost $5.7 million, which includes the purchase of an additional 1.6 acres to the west of the established culinary site.

“According the National Restaurant Association, North Carolina has one of the fastest growing and most vibrant hospitality/culinary economies in the US,” said CCC President Dr. Kerry Youngblood. “Hospitality and tourism have continued to play an ever increasing role in the economy of Carteret County with significant increases in tourism revenues over the past several years. Our deep roots in maritime culture combined with some of the highest quality seafood products in the world set the stage for Carteret County to emerge as one of the finest places in the eastern US to experience quality dining. This translates directly to employment. The hospitality bar has slowly risen over the past several years and continues to do so. If we can provide well trained professionals to meet the employment need, that growth will continue. Statistics show that well trained hospitality professionals advance at a much faster rate, are more satisfied with their employment, and are better paid than lesser skilled coworkers.”

Graduates of the CCC culinary program, which is under the direction of Shana Olmstead, can be found throughout the county and beyond at a variety of restaurants and hotels. In a tourism driven economy, the need for skilled workers in restaurant and hospitality arenas continues to year over year. According to a Power Point presentation compiled by the college, executive sous chefs earn an annual salary of $46,000, chefs earn $37,000 and pastry chefs net $40,000 a year. To date, 90 graduates of the program are employed in their chosen fields.

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          “This new culinary and hospitality facility will provide an incredible learning experience for our future students,” said Youngblood. “We are so excited to begin construction and to become a one-of-a-kind culinary and hospitality school with the tools students and instructors need to succeed. The Crystal Coast is quickly becoming a culinary destination with fine foods and restaurants. We’re so happy to be a part of that and to provide a quality workforce for our county. We are very grateful for the support of our state, our commissioners, the tourism authority, the chamber of commerce, the Golden Leaf Foundation, CCC Foundation, Beaufort Wine and Food, the NC Seafood Festival and many of our locals.”

According to Alize Proisy, public information officer for the college, faculty, trustees, architects and engineers are joining her and Dr. Youngblood in field trips around the state researching different culinary schools to make sure CCC’s new addition is the best it can be. So far, they’ve visited ECU and Nash Community College with a trip planned to the western part of the state in the fall. Groundbreaking on the new facility is planned for 2017.

“When we visit the culinary programs around the state we are looking for a creative efficient and effective use of space and materials that can maximize flexibility and multiple usage,” added Dr. Youngblood.

Backing for the Connect NC bond was strong throughout the state and across the political aisle. In all, it supports new construction and repairs on 17 of the UNC college campuses, infrastructure improvements to state and local parks, agricultural projects, repairs to public safety facilities and projects at each of the state’s 58 community colleges. About two thirds of voters supported the bond, which was placed on the primary ballot in March 2016. Fort Macon is also receiving a piece of the Connect NC pie – $135,000 for a 10-inch Civil War cannon and other items.

“North Carolina’s Community Colleges form the backbone of workforce development in the state by aligning instruction with workforce needs, and providing students with affordable educational opportunities,” Mary Carlyle Brown, who heads the chamber’s Public & Government Affairs Committee said earlier this year in a release.

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